Michael Jackson

Indiscriminate Bombing

Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador of the US, wrote an article in the Times of Israel blog entitled  “The US charge of ‘indiscriminate bombing’ is over the top”

Rather than respond to the blog post itself, I prefer to discuss the post on a more ample canvas.  Also, other points relevant to the topic will be discussed.

The Gaza Health Ministry, run by Hamas, does not distinguish between combatant and civilian casualties in its reports.  Oren writes “Though Hamas is well-known to grossly inflate its casualty figures, even that of the 28,000 civilian deaths cited by the ‘Gaza Health Ministry’ actually proves Israel’s case.”    The 28,000 can only be used to calculate civilian-to-fighter losses when one inserts the number of fighter (or civilian) losses.  Oren is using IDF estimates of 12,000 killed.  That number itself is a very dubious estimate. His estimate of 3,000 Gazans killed by the 30% of Hamas rockets that fell in the Gaza strip is contradicted by the statement in Wikipedia “Between October 2023 and January 2024 more than 10,600 rockets and mortar shells were launched at Israel, with 10% of them failing.[146]  “ (Meir Amit intelligence report).  His number of 3,000 Gazans killed by Hamas rockets is pure speculation. Also, urban warfare experts think the number of casualties is higher than the Hamas figure since uncounted dead bodies are buried beneath the rubble.  Netanyahu went further than Oren in claiming an actual 1:1 ratio.  That ratio is absurdly wrong.

But arguing about the ratio is itself a red herring.  A war in which the ratio was 4 civilians killed for each military killed with a total of 1,000 killed would mean 800 civilians were killed.   Even using Oren’s incorrect ratio of a little over one civilian per military with 28,000 deaths (a low estimate) that means about 15,000 civilians were killed despite a much lower ratio.  Oren’s mathematical ratio analysis ignores the Talmudic dictum to teach you that whoever kills one life kills the world entire”,  and ignores the pain and suffering of the victims themselves and the families of the victims.

Oren states “Far from being indiscriminate, each air strike in Gaza must be approved by IDF intelligence and legal officers to assure the minimal impact on civilians.”  This misses the point.  The “indiscriminate” refers to where the bombs fell.  Since Israel is using 40% non-precision bombs which can “miss” by over 100 feet, the use of such bombs is indiscriminate since a “guilty” target may be missed and an “innocent” building 100 feet away may be blown to smithereens.

Oren attacks the idea that too many Palestinians have been killed.  He writes “The oft-leveled charge that “too many Palestinians have been killed” implies that a smaller number would have been acceptable to the White House.   Again, he hides behind numbers, just as he hid behind ratios.  The White House understands that civilians will be killed and is following the Geneva Convention idea of proportionality.  1,200 Israelis were murdered.  A proportionate response in terms of the total number of Gazans killed might be 6,000 (five times as many).  Perhaps 12,000 (ten times as many) but that already seems disproportionate.  However, 28,000 is disproportionately “over the top” to use Oren’s phrase.  This will probably reach 50,000 after the invasion of Rafah with the deaths from fighting, bombing, famine, and lack of medical care.

Oren states “By asserting that Israel is violating international humanitarian law, our American ally is bolstering those who accuse us of committing war crimes and perpetrating genocide”.  The term “bolstering” is a gross exaggeration.  Humanitarian law can relate to how a policeman relates to a person, especially a minority person in the US, stopped for speeding.  There is a vast chasm between “international humanitarian law” and genocide which Oren ludicrously attempts to bridge.

Finally, I note with sadness that Oren, like most of Israel’s military and political leaders, like most Times of Israel bloggers evinces no sympathy for dead Palestinians.  I salute one, that I found was registered as dead on October 28th, so her death occurred between October 7th and October 28th.  Nada Wissam Amin Houssana was a 7-year-old girl, an obvious terrorist.

About the Author
Born in London in 1949. Studied Maths at Warwick University. Came to Israel (WUJS program at Arad) in 1971. I became a citizen and served in the army in 1973. Returned to the UK in 1974. Worked in Information Systems. Married an American Orthodox woman in 1977 and moved to America. For a few years I have led a retiree philosophy class.